Autodidact: self-taught

Dec
21
2012

Glass Books of the Dream Eaters

by V. L. Craven

Title and author of book? The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist

Genre? Victorian fiction/steampunk/Victorian techie fiction

What led you to pick up this book? I wanted to read more steampunk fiction and had heard good things about this one on my favourite (now-defunct) book forum Readerville.

Summarize the plot, but don’t give away the ending . Three dissimilar people take on a nefarious Cabal set on seizing power through a mysterious Process. The Process can render memories into the physical form of blue glass books, which can then be ‘read’ by anyone. The books are addictive and the chemicals used to make them highly dangerous. Lots of swordplay, as well as most other weapons available to the Victorians.

What did you like most about the book? The action sequences were well done. Usually I don’t appreciate action scenes–I see them as necessary to get back to the characters or plot–but these were good. There are several on trains and airships that were suspenseful and interesting. And the sex scenes were well-written. This is saying something, as some of the best writers can’t write a sex scene that isn’t cringe-inducing. Dahlquist doesn’t get too explicit, yet one knows what’s going on, which is perfect. I also liked the descriptions of the Process and the gadgetry involved with that.

What did you dislike about the book? The story is told from three different points of view and each character had their own questions they wanted answered; this resulted in paragraphs of questions running through each of their minds, which was quite confusing.

What did you think of the main character? The story is told from three different points of view–a German doctor sent to look after the German prince of Macklenburg, a spoiled but resourceful young woman of means and a hardened assassin. Each character is rendered believably and they take turns telling the story–pushing the plot along. The Cabal consists of enough characters to populate a Russian novel and all of their motivations and machinations get confusing at times. It’s obvious Dahlquist has put much thought into each of the characters, though. The most prominent of the bad guys is the Contessa. Classic Lady MacBeth type, but entertaining enough. It was never clear to me what drove her other than power-lust.

Share some quotes from the book.
The chief one that comes to mind is: Dreading what you cannot change serves no purpose.

Share a favorite scene from the book.
There’s a sequence where all three of the protagonists are at a massive estate in the English countryside that is well rendered. None know where the other two are (or where they personally are on the estate) and the reader really gets a sense of the size of the grounds and the playing-it-by-ear-ness of what the characters are doing.

What about the ending?
The ending was fine. Usually I’m unhappy with endings of novels–particularly long novels where it can feel like the author simply tired of writing and said, “Fine, here’s the end,” but this one felt true to the story. This is a Victorian England story written in that style, so certain things had to happen and that was to be expected.

Overall Rating: 7/10 It could have used some editing, but overall it was a fun ride.

[Post from a previous blog. Original post date: 10 October, 2007]

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